The future of the high street

The relationship between the online and off line retail is frequently uncomfortable.   As an online retailer I have witnessed a backlash recently against internet businesses with several brands refusing to deal with me.  This got me thinking about the future of retail and our high streets.  Here are my thoughts, in no particular order.

Retailers will be slicker and more technology focused

It is impossible not to notice the number of boarded up shops on the high streets these days.  Many of these shops seem to be small independents who were highly dependent on footfall and usually had no online presence of speak of.  In my view the only independents who will survive in future will be tech savy and multi channel.    As much of mobile commerce is focused on local businesses, those who can ultilise the opportunities this presents will quickly overtake their rivals.

The independent sector will move online

In the recession the economics of running a small independent shop begin to look even more precarious.  Independent retailers, especially for everyday items, will predominantly move online to cut costs.  Independent shops with a continuing physical presence will sell items which people like to look at before buying e.g. high end, clothing, impulse purchases (e.g. gifts).

Successful retailers will be multi channel

I am constantly amazed at the number of retailing businesses which do not have a web presence.  Then again, from my own experience, I know that running a website is time consuming and requires a great deal of know-how to be successful.  In future, in order to survive retailers will have to be adept at using a wide variety of sales channels to generate maximum sales from their inventory.

Shopping will become more experiential

Social media can only go so far in providing a ‘social’ experience and there are many things which simply cannot be done online.  For some years now, town centres have been losing retail shops and gaining coffee shops, hairdressers and nail bars.  Many larger shops are also opening cafes and providing other services.

Shopping areas will become more compact

With the enormous variety of product available online, people will shun local shops for larger, slicker groupings of shops.  Shops will therefore cluster together more tightly either in out of town centres or town centres.

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